Whether you've come up with an idea for a unique fan-based sports product you want to sell at all of the home baseball games or you're building a catering empire and have aspirations of being the next Food Network star, keep in mind — you can do it with hard work, perseverance and passion.
How do you market yourself and grow your business, especially if you don't have much experience in that particular industry? Consider these five methods of bringing visibility to your brand and not breaking the bank:
Create a Unique NicheBuild a place to call your own in the world of business. A unique niche makes enterprising easier. Once a vision is established consider your brand layout and keep it consistent. According to TheJamesGroup.com, to make your brand recognizable and memorable, convey a single, mental image using a set of verbal and visual images. Streamlining your company name, logo, tagline and advertising campaign to reflect one mental picture of your company as a whole is key to reaching consumers.
Each day, Americans encounter countless advertising impressions. Often unconsciously, they will quickly scan them, looking to process the information for an entry point. The campaign handle initiates the mental image your brand creates. And if you think about how your own mind works, you will understand the link between mental images, branding and sales. What did you eat for breakfast? As your brain quickly inventories your morning, visuals of a cereal box and milk probably came to mind. A similar thing happens when people are deciding which restaurant to eat at or which product to buy. Little images move at the speed of light through the brain offering an answer.
Memorable Campaign Types
- Word hooks: offer repeatable catch phrases. Example: "can you hear me now" from Verizon.
- Character hooks: Use a memorable figure, whether a hero, villain or victim, to establish an emotional connection with customers. Think Snoopy as the Metlife character or Flo as the Progressive personality.
- Repeatable themes: situations that play over and over addressing the need for a product. Consumers often know the punchline before it comes and feel a personal satisfaction. "He doesn't always drink beer ..."
- Consistent layout: In a blink of an eye, customers can identify a brand because of their consistent (and unique) design layout. By using color, shape and images, you can consciously stand out while also instilling trust. In an uncertain world, customers can consistently count on the Energizer Bunny always beating the drum. You can always "Enjoy Coca-Cola."
Establish RelationshipsBe authentic in your communication with business contacts and clients. Sometimes a certain amount of transparency can help you become trusted and established. The key is to make you available to attend industry and entrepreneur-specific mixers in your local area. Join online forums and effectively communicate your product while learning successful business tactics from other professionals.
If you want truly to get out there, travel to industry conferences and trade shows in different cities as a means to network and grow your business beyond local settings.
Some practical advice for business travel:
You can always reduce the agony of your business trip if you plan appropriately.
- Select a three-piece suit for the meeting and more casual clothing for the flight and extra time you may have. Wear your heaviest clothing and mix and match your wardrobe.
- Pack for small overhead-bins.
- Flight insurance in case your trip is canceled because of weather, illness or other trip interruptions.
- Arrange for voice and Internet access before the flight.
- Recharge all of your gadgets using USB ports.
- Pack only necessary items to avoid security lines.
Word of Mouth AdvertisingWord of mouth is the most effective form of advertising. Eating at a restaurant? Give the server your business card. At a baseball game? Communicate your message to those that strike up conversation with you, whether in person or online. Have your clients, friends and family talk about your unique business niche. Give incentives to your current clients (if you have them) for bringing business to you.
The goal is to create walking brand ambassadors that have tried your product or service and have influence on large audiences to buy or consume it.
Saturate Social MediaWhether your intentions for social media are to market you or become active in the online community conversations, social media continue to grow and become a valuable asset to any budding entrepreneur. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus are some of the top social media websites you must become a part of to survive in the growing world of web-based contact. Set up separate accounts for your personal socializing and your business socializing.
A September 2010 research report conducted by Chadwick Martin and Bailey, a Boston-based market research company, found that 75 percent of people will probably share favorable online content with friends, co-workers or family.